This handout photo provided by the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) shows Raffi Freedman-Gurspan in Washington. The White House announced Freedman-Gurspan's appointment Tuesday as an outreach and recruitment director for presidential personnel in the Office of Personnel. Transgender advocates say she is the first openly transgender official to serve in the White House.

National Center for Transgender Equality via AP

In her new position as outreach and recruitment director, Raffi Freedman-Gurspan is responsible for overseeing personnel 

Taylor Lewis
Aug, 18, 2015

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan has become the first openly transgender staffer to work at the White House.

Freedman-Gurspan, who has previously worked at the Massachusetts State House, will serve as the outreach and recruitment director for presidential personnel. 

"I am elated that Raffi Freedman-Gurspan will become the first openly transgender staff member at the White House," National Center for Transgender Equality executive director Mara Keisling said in a statement. "That the first transgender appointee is a transgender woman of color is itself significant. And that the first White House transgender appointee is of a friend is inspiring to me and to countless others who have been touched by Raffi’s advocacy.

Before joining White House staff, 28-year-old Freeman-Gurspan was working as a policy advisor for the NCTE's Racial and Economic Justice Initiative. She has been outspoken in putting an end to violence against trans women of color and giving a voice to trans prisoners. 

Her appointment has captured the attention of LGBTQ activists nationwide, who feel that her new role will give some much-needed visibility to the underrepresented community.

"As the old saying goes, 'if you're not in the room, then you can't possible be at the table,'" Wade Henderson, CEO of the human rights organization The Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights, said in a statement. "Our nation will be stronger with Freedman-Gurspan, an advocate from The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights coalition, both in the room and at the table as the first openly transgender White House staffer."